By Doug Porter
A gaggle of overgrown men in body armor chasing an inflated pigskin up and down a grass field in New Jersey named after an insurance company in the dead of winter just took on a whole new level of symbolism.
The Seattle Seahawks came from behind in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC championship game, joining the Denver Broncos, who defeated the New England Patriots in the earlier AFC championship game, in heading to the Super Bowl.
Both teams are from states,Washington and Colorado, that legalized marijuana at the ballot box in 2012. Given that it’s a holiday and otherwise slow news day, today’s column will begin by talking about the latest developments in weedworld, er…stonerland…, er, marijuana legalization.
The Los Angeles Times says 2014 is going to be a watershed year for the pro-pot movement. Even as cannabis retailers are opening their doors in Seattle and Denver, initiative drives are underway in five other states, including California. Organizers of a medical marijuana measure in Florida announced they’d collected more than a million signatures this past week.
“What has happened now is we have reached the national tipping point on marijuana reform,” said Stephen Gutwillig, deputy executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group. “Marijuana legalization has gone from an abstract concept to a mainstream issue to a political reality within a three-year period…”
…To Alison Holcomb, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who wrote the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Washington state, the “enormous jump” in approval of legalization in just a year does not reflect “changes in attitudes about marijuana specifically. Rather, it’s a change in attitudes about whether it’s OK to support marijuana law reform.”
In other words, Americans don’t necessarily like pot more than they used to. The percentage of those who have actually tried it has stayed in the 30% range for three decades. Rather, Americans are simply fed up with criminal penalties they say are neither cost-effective nor just.
At least 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized some form of medical marijuana use.
The Super Oobie-Doobie Bowl?
Over at McClatchy News, they were speculating about the potential impact of this year’s football contest on the tourism industry before the playoff games even happened:
Shortly after those voters made their decisions in November 2012, travel guide Arthur Frommer said both cities should brace for “a torrent of new tourism.”
Now the two cities might face off in one of the world’s biggest sporting extravaganzas, giving the media a fresh story hook for the next two weeks.
Pot backers are tickled.
“It’s something that those of us in the movement have had an eye on for a long time,” said Steve Fox, who works for a marijuana-industry law firm in Denver.
If the matchup does materialize, said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, it will feature “the two most pro-cannabis-legalization cities in the U.S.” He jokingly suggested that the game be renamed “The Super Oobie Doobie Bowl.”
The Odds Are Rising
If you’re headed to Vegas to make a few bets on the game, you’ll likely hear chatter about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s recent change of heart on the subject.
From The Las Vegas Sun:
“If you’d asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer – I would have said no, because (marijuana) leads to other stuff,” the Senate majority leader told the Sun today. “But I can’t say that anymore.”
“I think we need to take a real close look at this,” Reid went on. “I think that there’s some medical reasons for marijuana.”
Reid, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is not one who normally rushes to embrace controversial substances.
“I’ve never tried it,” he initially joked, when the topic of marijuana was raised in today’s interview.
President Obama’s statements about pot in a New Yorker interview have also made the news nationally.
From the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama said he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, ‘‘in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.’’
‘‘As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,’’ the president said an interview with ‘‘The New Yorker’’ magazine.
Smoking marijuana is ‘‘not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,’’ Obama said.
Obama’s administration has given states permission to experiment with marijuana regulation, and laws recently passed in Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana recently went into effect. The president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at one time or another.
Meanwhile, in ChristieLand
The actual sporting contest is being held in New Jersey, where use of marijuana for any reason is still a big legal no-no.
But you won’t be able to light up at the Super Bowl, being held in two weeks in New Jersey (with an assist from the NYPD), where recreational marijuana remains prohibited and the implementation of medical marijuana is going on at a snail’s pace. Players with the Seahawks and the Broncos won’t be able to light up, either. Their contracts with the NFL prohibit the use of marijuana, irrespective of its legal status where they live. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, meanwhile, is only at the stage of contemplating letting players use medical marijuana, much like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
San Diego’s Super-Centennial in Trouble
Over at UT-San Diego they’ve posted an article detailing the rise and apparent fall of the group that’s supposed to be organizing the centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama California Exposition . Things aren’t going well for the tax exempt Balboa Park Celebration, which signed an 18-page agreement with the city back in 2011 giving it authority over specific park resources over the next year and a half or so, starting in July.
Exactly zero of the promised corporate sponsors have materialized, no permits have been applied for, and the group is three months late in submitting a traffic and parking plan to the City along with a strategic implementation plan for the celebration.
There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on as the group is on it’s third CEO. Everything and everybody from Bigfoot to Bob Filner is apparently being blamed. Meanwhile, two former aides to Mayor Jerry Sanders are drawing big-time salaries.
From the UT account:
Balboa Park Celebration has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on meetings, programming consultants, fundraising experts, accountants, lawyers and other services. In 2012, nonprofit officials traveled to Panama to meet with civic and business leaders and explore potential partnerships, none of which have been announced.
The organization paid the Loma Media public relations firm almost $100,000 between July and September, city records show. The firm, headed by John DeBello, has promoted the event with social media and video.
Last year the nonprofit paid $30,000 to Departure, the branding company co-founded by Emily Rex, to create the “Edge2015” concept for the celebration. The slogan is no longer in use.
Autonomy, the Los Angeles production company introduced as the event producer in February, was replaced in November. The L.A. firm Utopia now is producing the event.
Here’s my favorite quip in the UT comments, from David Lunkin:
This group has no oars and no rudder. When the paid “leaders” of a civic event funded with public money will not consent to any interviews —trouble is brewing. When contract deadlines pass and nothing of substance has been accomplished, City Council should be holding substantive oversight hearings.
Minimum Wage Watch
The counter-offensive against the movement to raise the minimum wage is under way. A group calling itself the Employment Policies Institute took out an ad in the New York Times last week promoting the talking points of the “bah humbug” crowd.
Playing on the similarities of its name with the pro-increase Economic Policy Institute, the group erroneously claims “most studies” as showing that a minimum wage hike doesn’t actually help poor people, going on to assert “The Best Weapon in the War on Poverty Is a Job.”
…As if there isn’t a large percentage of fully employed people who aren’t living in poverty…
The Employment Policies Institute is little more than a shill, a front group for the restaurant industry and other corporate, right-wing interests, as documented by the Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch. Here’s more on these shills:
The Employment Policies Institute operates from the same office suite as Berman and Co., a public relations firm owned by Richard Berman. This is not an opinion; it’s a fact anyone can verify by viewing EPI and Berman and Co.’s websites.
(snip) At the Center for Media and Democracy, we have spent 20 years tracking disinformation and spin, and Richard Berman has long been one of our favorite research subjects. Berman came out of the restaurant industry, spending several years as a top executive at Steak and Ale before launching Berman and Co. to help advocate for corporate America. His clients have included tobacco companies (for which he formed an entity he called the Center for Consumer Freedom) and the alcoholic beverage industry (for which he created the American Beverage Institute). He was once profiled on a 60 Minutes piece titled “Dr. Evil.” But one of his most successful products has been the Employment Policies Institute.
EPI regularly opines in the press on a host of topics. Recently it has been working to show that restaurant workers don’t need higher wages or paid sick days, but few Americans are informed by the press that this “think tank” is just one or two individuals working for spinmeister Berman.
Berman’s Employment Policies Institute opposes not only an increase to the minimum wage, but a minimum wage of any kind. Previously, it has lined up with the right wing against health care reform, and—in what may be a first for a self-described “nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth”—took out a full page ad attacking … wait for it … ACORN.
On This Day: 1937 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to be inaugurated on January 20th. The 20th Amendment of the U.S.Constitution officially set the date for the swearing in of the President and Vice President. 1982 – Ozzy Osborne bit the head off of a bat in Des Moines, IA, and was hospitalized to undertake a series of rabies shots. 1986 – The U.S. observed the first federal holiday in honor of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
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